Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays because my family hosts a huge party full of swimming, grilling and all our closest friends.  This year was no different in that we went to the party......but yet totally different with an active toddler.  She was all over the place crawling in and out of the water, on and off the rafts, splashing with her cousins and gobbling down a hot dog and lots of fruit.

One of the perks of having a daughter and super crafty friends is being able to dress her up for all the fun holidays.  I bought this Chevron patterned, rag tag stitched shirt from a co-worker and paired it with shorts and sandals she already owned.  I've had this outfit planned out since the beginning of June.  And now that it's over, I have to get started on her Halloween costume.  Seriously.

As I was getting her ready for a grocery shopping trip this morning I had a lightbulb moment.  Pigtails.  Her hair *might* be long enough for pigtails.  What is sweeter on the Fourth of July than a little girl with curly, dainty pigtails?  And of course since I live in the south, there had to be hairbows involved.  I sat her on the floor of my bathroom with a book to read while I gathered her comb and a glass of water so that I could more easily divide and gather her hair up into the piggies.  I've never been a real genius with hair and I'll admit - I was a little nervous and clumsy on my first try but after a few you go.  Adorable, right?

Playing at Nonna and Granddaddy's house.  See all those toys on the shelf?  My meticulous mother saved practically ALL our (I have two big brothers) toys from growing up and has them out for the grandbabies when they visit.  There are also three shelves full of stuffed animals and dolls in my old bedroom that Natalie has discovered and is currently her favorite thing to do at my parent's house.  It makes my heart swell to see my daughter excited to play with the same dolls and toys that provided such magical adventures in my own childhood.

A closer up look of the pigtails.  I didn't have matching bows so I just went with white and blue.  I love that little impish look on her face.  She knows exactly how cute she is.

Craig and I have a little routine in the mornings since our darling daughter is determined to wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 every single morning.  Craig gets up with her first and then I roll out of bed around 7:00 or 7:30 and he goes BACK to bed for an hour and a half, during which Natalie and I turn on the morning radio show and play with blocks and read books.  THIS morning we had to run to the grocery store to get a few things for the macaroni salad and black bean salsa I was making for the party.  The best way I've found to entertain Natalie while I'm cooking is to pull up a kitchen chair to the island where I'm working and pretend to be Rachael Ray.  No joke.  She is my little "sous chef" and I let her help pour in the ingredients and stir everything together.  When Craig came down into the living room/kitchen area from upstairs, she had her back to him initially but turned around quickly when she heard his voice.  There aren't many things in this world that can make my husband completely speechless, but the sight of her with big girl pigtails and bows in her hair is apparently one of them.

"She looks so........big," he said proudly but yet tinged with a bit of sadness and nostalgia.  Our baby girl indeed is marching quickly towards being a LITTLE girl.


On the way home tonight as that LITTLE girl snoozed in the backseat, worn out from swimming, eating and playing with cousins, I reminded Craig of another reason the Fourth of July is so special - two years ago today we found out that we were expecting a child.  I had been exceptionally exhausted for about a week and since we were "actively trying" to conceive a child, I knew that we were close to being able to take an accurate test.  But in my gut, I knew I was pregnant.  Craig played Devil's Advocate since he knew how much I wanted to start a family - he didn't want me to be disappointed if I wasn't pregnant right away.  But in that car ride home two years ago, I stared out the window at the bright moon sparkling in the sky and I spoke with God and my grandma and a feeling of peace and serenity washed over my body.  I didn't need to pee on a stick.  I knew.  Something was just wonderfully different in my body and within my soul.  Something had shifted and changed.  We stopped off at Walgreens by our home and picked up one of those cheap plus or minus tests and once we arrived home, I immediately ran upstairs to confirm what I already knew.  Sure enough, the faintest of plus signs showed up.  Of course I did what any normal 26 year old married woman does in these situations - I took a picture of the plus sign and texted it to my best friend Amy.  And THEN I headed out of the bathroom to confer with my husband over the "are we or aren't we" pregnancy test.  Although the line was WAS pretty faint so Amy's advice (of course she called me back when she got the text) was to send Craig BACK to Walgreens to pick up the uber fancy digital test that tells you in words whether or not you are pregnant.  After the digital test I called Amy back, "does the word NOT ever show up if it says PREGNANT already?"  "Nope, my friend.....congrats!  You're knocked up!" she replied.  I walked out of the bathroom with that stupid kind of grin on my face and showed Craig.  Since we had only been "trying" month.........we didn't really know what to do or say.  Mission Accomplished?  Way to go team?  We high fived each other and just kind of sat there stunned and smiling.  We had no idea what trials and tribulations lay in our immediate path but nor did we know the intense pride and joy we would experience as we watch our baby girl grow up.

This all might have been too much information but looking at my big girl today so brave in the water and so loving with her eldest cousin and so friendly and charming with all the guests, I can't help but be in awe of the past two years.  My goodness how our lives have...........changed isn't the right word............GROWN.......MORPHED.......TRANSCENDED.  Those are better.  We still live in the same house but with more toys and a bright turquoise nursery.  We are still in love but have a deeper understanding and respect for one another.  Two years ago tonight we had no idea what was in store for us.  No concept of Postpartum Depression.  No way to truly grasp a parent's love for their child.  Our vows of "in sickness and in health, for better for worse" had never been tested.  But here we all are, two years later - happy, healthy and grateful.

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